Insights SECURE – Guide to Self Review (your own Answers)
It is an easy task to read answers written by others, but many a times it’s difficult to read your own answers. It is difficult because you either lack interest or courage to look at your own creation. Sometimes you are scared that answer/essay looks very bad. You may think it’s mediocre or not as good as you expected.
Sometimes even if it’s good, you may don’t read your own answer thinking it’s good anyway.
But, either by not reviewing on your own or by not getting feedback either from peers or mentors, you may be unknowingly repeating few mistakes again and again.
Reviewing your own answers without reviewing or reading others’ answers will not help you much. You should have some reference to compare your answer to assess its quality. Our synopsis helps in terms of content. But when it comes to structure of answer, our new initiative should help. However, regarding presentation, you must keep looking at answers of other aspirants – some will be presenting their answers exceptionally well (like Tina Dabi’s) and some will write exceptionally bad as well. Try to learn from well presented answers and definitely avoid bad presentation. In case your handwriting is bad, definitely do something to improve it (YES, it matters).
Reviewing your own answers serves two purposes: It acts as revision and it helps you assess your strengths and weaknesses.
So, how to review your own answer?
Assuming you have written answer after thoroughly following our strategy as outlined in our previous article, here are guidelines for self- reviewing(evaluating) of your answers:
- Before reviewing your answer, you should read question again and understand its demand.
- In the first appearance itself, your answer look neat and well presented (in case you are writing on paper). Good presentation includes neat handwriting, clean spacing between lines and paragraphs, absence of struck words/sentences. Appearance should create good impression. Presentation should be inviting and please evaluator.
- Structure – don’t write in paragraphs, especially in GS-1,2 and 3. Structure your answer as per directions given in New Secure. If structure is absent, you will definitely get low marks as you are forcing evaluator to search for points – making his job difficult.
- Next, in the introduction, all parts of answer should be addressed in 2-3 lines. Observe if you are giving only definition or background information. Introduction is very important and when you make a valid point in it, reward the answer.
- In the body, you must address all parts of the question. If any part is missing, proportionately deduct marks. For example, if a question has 3 parts (What, Why and How), but you miss How part. Then one third marks must be deducted.
- Marks must be deducted if main points are not substantiated with examples. In case you have ten points to write, you should give examples to at least 3-4 points. No example, no marks. Any argument without justification/illustration/validation has no value.
- Conclusion must be there whatever be the nature of question. Conclusion should have a valid point. It should not be mere summary or repetition of statement from introduction or question. If you are doing this, cut one mark. If there is value addition in conclusion, award a mark.
Answer should have clarity, consistency (in terms of your stance, presentation and structure), conciseness, relevancy (extremely important) and coherence (flow between parts).
If your answer has all of these, award 60% of the marks (6/10). Depending on which aspect is missing, deduct marks accordingly (For ex, an answer with very good content without intro and conclusion might get 4-5 marks).
Grammar is not so important. What’s important is communicating your answer despite certain deficiencies in language. Don’t cut marks for poor grammar.
If presentation bad, handwriting is illegible, definitely deduct marks.
Finally, it’s the overall impression that matters. Good impression will be created when all elements are in sync.
We hope you start doing self-review from today in Secure. From our side, we will do our best to review your answers.
Wish you all the best.
Note: This post is meant as rough guideline for you to self-evaluate your answer. UPSC may have different approach, but broadly above mentioned points are expected in any descriptive answer/mini-essay.